Brewers On Deck event takes place today

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Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Sunday, January 26, 2014

As followers of the Milwaukee Brewers brave the brutal winter weather to gather today for the team’s annual “On Deck” event, two questions will be on the minds of many:

What happened to the pending deal with free-agent pitcher Matt Garza?

How will it go for Ryan Braun in his first large-scale interaction with fans since his season-ending 65-game suspension in 2013 for drug and conduct violations connected with the scandalous Biogenesis clinic?

Regarding that first question, general manager Doug Melvin shed no light Saturday on what prevented finalization of a four-year, $52 million deal with Garza first reported by Fox Sports on Thursday.

“There’s nothing to report,” said Melvin. “I can’t really comment on it. We’re just waiting.”

Waiting on what? The delay in announcing a deal led to speculation that the Brewers were waiting for the “On Deck” event to make a dramatic announcement that a deal with Garza was done. That news would also take some of the focus off Braun’s appearance, which otherwise promises to overshadow the rest of the festivities.

But a source familiar with the situation said there was no indication the Brewers intentionally were waiting to announce a deal with Garza. He reportedly took a physical examination in Milwaukee in anticipation of completing a deal, normally the final step, but no announcement was made and the team later said negotiations were “ongoing.”

Barring an announcement of a deal at “On Deck,” it remains to be seen what the Brewers will say there about the Garza situation.

“On Deck” will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center, and this year admission is free as part of the team’s “mea culpa” for a disappointing 74-88 showing in 2013 as well as the Braun fiasco. Some 30 players are scheduled to participate as well as staff members and former Brewers.

Depending on whose autograph you are seeking, the prices range from free to $10. The Brewers have designated six “Premier” autographs that will cost you $10—players Yovani Gallardo, Jonathan Lucroy and Braun; Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Rollie Fingers; and legendary radio voice Bob Uecker.

Recipients of “Premier” autographs will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan will receive one Premier Entry card that can be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside of the Main Exhibit Hall. That card will be exchanged for a numbered coupon and entered into the random selection process.

Coupon distribution will be available at 8 a.m. and continue up to an hour before each designated autograph session. Those holding winning coupons must pay $10 at the respective autograph stage. The winning numbers will be posted at the autograph no less than 30 minutes prior to each session.

The “premier” schedule: Gallardo from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. on Stage 4; Fingers, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Stage 2; Yount, 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. on Stage 3; Lucroy, 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. on Stage 1; Uecker, 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. on Stage 5; Braun, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. on Stage 6.

Other players and staff will not use the random selection process. They will sign 250 autographs each at prices ranging from free to $10. Autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team. The Brewers cannot guarantee that players will sign other items.

Other activities include Q&A sessions with manager Ron Roenicke and his coaching staff as well as principal owner Mark Attanasio, Melvin, assistant Gord Ash and special assistant Craig Counsell. There will be game shows “Milwacky Squares” and “The Brewlywed Game” featuring players and special guests, and a media roundtable to allow fans to ask questions.

WTMJ-AM (620) will broadcast live from the event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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